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Great literature 'has been inspired by the Devil'

9th February 2011

Some of the western world's finest literature has been inspired by the Devil, an academic from the University of Cambridge has argued.

Dr Fred Parker, director of studies in English at the university, pointed out that the Devil is a common figure in literature, first appearing in the Bible and still being found in present day works such as Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

However, in his new book The Devil as Muse, the expert examines how writers do not just use Satan as a stock character and have been directly inspired by the image and mythology built up around the evil being.

'The great appeal of the Devil for the writer is his disregard for morality and convention. This both attracts and repels us, challenging the dividing line between good and bad. He is the rebel, stranger, tempter, outsider,' Dr Parker explains.

John Milton, William Blake, Lord Byron, Thomas Mann and Mikhail Bulgakov are among the writers whom the academic cites as finding creativity in the daemonic.

While Dr Parker is focusing on the influence of evil in literature, the ongoing Great and Manifold Blessings show at the Cambridge University Library is charting the history and development of the King James Bible by showing a number of historical artefacts.
 

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